Gesture in photos.. What is it? I was fortunate to learn from a master of photography the concept of 'gesture' in photos. Jay Maisel, America's pioneer of street photography refers to gesture as 'qualities that distinguish a particular subject from the archetypal - and by extension, good photographs from boring ones'. It could be colour or patterns in a photo, the way someone is holding an item, the intricacy of a table leg, a feature on someone's face, textures in photos - it's that thing in a photo which makes you stop and notice the details. I love photography because it challenges you to create meaning. That's why selfies are not allowed during our workshops.
I ask my students what is the one possession you would save from your house in an emergency? The answer always is 'my phone miss'. I asked why your phone? 'Because of all the photos miss'.
I grew up looking at family photo albums. People seldom print photos now. Photos tell stories - whether it's a news story, a memory, a trauma or a significant event. I think people cherish photos more when they experience a loss of some sort. Photos give meaning to people, places and objects. I have been fortunate to travel and volunteer overseas both as a nurse and photographer. The charities I worked for show their work in photos. Their photos don't need words. The first time I worked in Tanzania I brought a polaroid camera with me. Back then the patient's family did not have smart phones, let alone printed photos. On my first shift I took photos of mothers and their children who were having heart surgery. I wanted them to have some fun seeing an instant photo for the first time and help relieve their anxiety. Most patients don't speak English and trusting their children to a team of foreign health care workers must be so overwhelming. This is one of our little patients waiting for heart surgery.
This photo is one of our baby girls who thrived. This photo was taken outside the operating theatre doors just before her surgery. You can't see the mum's fear and love on her face but you can certainly feel it. This mum emailed me for 12 months with many photos of her daughter so we could see her progress.
This photo symbolises new life and Tanzania. This is a replacement heart valve sewn into the patient's heart. I am always in awe of our heart surgeons, theatre team and their healing hands that save lives every day. It is a privilege to work for the charity and I look forward to when I can revisit Tanzania!
I volunteered to photograph children needing a forever home in China. I'm wearing a panda hat hoping to get a smile from this beautiful boy while my colleague was filming him in action. All the children had severe disabilities and our job was to capture what they could do rather than focus on what they couldn't do. No words required...and yes I wanted to take them all home with me especially this last little guy!
Photography makes you slow down with careful consideration and just ENJOY the moment. Below are some student photos that exhibit gesture. If you have photos that hold a special place in your heart, I challenge you to print them because photos are a reminder of a moment otherwise gone.